Halloumi is a fabulous semi-firm cheese from Cyprus and a favorite in Greek cooking. It's similar to mozzarella in texture, but it is brined so it imparts a salty taste and greater depth of flavor. This is an excellent grilling cheese because it doesn't melt. Halloumi slices will retain their shape when cooked, and the heat softens the rubbery (or "squeaky") cheese while mellowing the saltiness.
A popular addition to a Greek meze table, frying halloumi creates a unique treat. It's chewy—don't expect it to melt in your mouth—and it's delicious. The fried halloumi is best served warm, and you can complement it in any number of ways. This dish calls for a tomato garnish and balsamic vinaigrette, but you can simply serve it with olive oil for more of a pure taste.
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- 1 (8-ounce) package halloumi cheese (drained; cut into 3/8-inch slices)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Garnish: freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- Garnish: oregano or mint leaves
- Garnish: 4 to 5 cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
- Garnish: balsamic vinaigrette
Gather the ingredients. Heat a nonstick frying pan over high heat.
Dry the halloumi cheese slices by blotting them with a paper towel. Place the slices on a plate and brush both sides lightly with the olive oil to coat each thoroughly.
Sear the cheese in the hot pan until each slice develops a deep brown crust, about 1 minute on the first side and 1 to 2 minutes on the other.
Place the fried cheese on a plate and garnish with the pepper, oregano or mint leaves, tomatoes, and vinaigrette.
Is Halloumi Suitable for Vegetarians?
Halloumi is often made with non-animal derived rennet and suitable for a vegetarian diet, but you should check the package to make sure. It is made with milk, so it's not suitable for vegans.
Is Fried Halloumi Healthy?
The nutritional value of halloumi varies because each cheesemaker has their own special recipe. In general, halloumi is a good source of calcium and protein, though it's also high in saturated fats and sodium. Low-fat halloumi can be found. Olive oil is considered one of the healthiest cooking oils, so the cheese itself is probably more concerning. Moderation is likely the best approach for a healthy diet.
Can Fried Halloumi Be Stored and Reheated?
It's best to fry only what you're going to eat while the cheese is still warm. Once it cools down, halloumi will get rubbery again. Beware of refrigerating cooked halloumi for use on another day; refrigeration tends to make fried halloumi too hard and firm. While it can be reheated slightly in the microwave (no more than 40 seconds), it will not retain the same delicious taste and texture of freshly fried cheese.
- The halloumi will smoke as you cook it. Don't be alarmed—you're not doing anything wrong. Just turn on the vent, open a window, or run a fan.
- The cheese should soften as it cooks, but no liquid should escape, and it won't melt. You can poke it with a spatula to test its consistency.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of oil to the pan as it's heating for more of an olive oil taste.
- If you want to skip the tomatoes, simply sprinkle the cooked halloumi with the pepper, some oregano or mint, and perhaps a little more olive oil. You can also try basil, red pepper, paprika, or lemon juice.
- Cubing the halloumi rather than slicing it offers endless options. For example, drop the pieces into a salad or vegetable dish for an added kick.
More Ways to Use Fried Halloumi
- If you have extra halloumi, prepare a warm salad and add fried halloumi just before serving.
- Cut the halloumi into cubes and add it to meat or vegetable skewers.
- For meat-free burgers or sandwiches, grill slices and serve in buns or bread with condiments and vegetable toppers. Or replace the buns with grilled halloumi.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, "Sheep & Goat Halloumi." 28 May 2020.